This gallery containing the death-mask of Filippo Brunelleschi, architect of the Cathedral dome, evokes the conceptual and symbolic process by which, in the years from 1418-1436, the brilliant structural and mechanical engineer realised the building’s final component, the so-called “major tribune”. Together with 15th-century wood models and a selection of period tools, the gallery has large modern models and a theater-area showing a brief explanatory film. There are also late 15th- and early 16th-century models illustrating proposals for the decoration of the dome’s drum, left unfinished when Brunelleschi died in 1446.
Still other models and projected images evoke various projects born with the dome’s completion: the choir enclosure that Brunelleschi erected beneath it in 1436; the stained-glass windows designed from 1436 on by Ghiberti, Donatello, Paolo Uccello and Andrea del Castagno; and the monumental cornice mounted on the south-east façade of the drum, an experimental work realised by Baccio d’Agnolo in 1516. Three “tree trunks” between the exhibit space and the theater area recall the vast tracts of forest in the Casentino hills, east of Florence, which the Republic entrusted to the Opera del Duomo for the timber needed for scaffoldings and building machines. The trunks were floated to Florence on the Arno river and stored in warehouses on the site occupied today by the museum.